Sunday, October 30, 2011

From the House

While most of us are paying very close attention to the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, it is worth noting that the part of government that will have the most profound effect on our day-to-day lives is local government. This is truly where the rubber meets the road. Much of this important work is done by you and your neighbors who volunteer time for work on boards and commissions associated with the county or municipalities, or in some cases, the state government. Ideally, there should be a waiting list for each of these opportunities to serve. This is rarely the case.

One of the functions of your Beaufort County Delegation is to appoint members to many of these crucial advisory bodies. Listed below are some of the appointments we would like to make if there are candidates to consider:

Beaufort County Transportation Committee (two vacancies)
Beaufort/Jasper Higher Education Committee (three commissioner’s terms expiring)
Beaufort/Jasper Water and Sewer Authority (one opening)
Coastal Empire Mental Healthcare Center Board of Directors (five terms set to expire with one immediate vacancy)
Lowcountry Tourism Commission (one vacancy)
South Island Public Service District (five terms expiring)

As the chairman of your delegation, I have set the next meeting for Monday, 7 November, at 10 a.m. in council chambers of the courthouse in Beaufort. If you have business before us, please contact Ashley at to get on the agenda. Today is the deadline, but this has been in the papers for the last two weeks or so. I cannot overstate the importance of having qualified, motivated people to serve on these boards and commissions. If you want to get involved, we will find a place for you.

Speaking of involvement, the Bluffton Town Council elections are coming up next Tuesday, 8 November. There are two seats at issue with four good people running. There are a host of very pressing matters facing us in Bluffton, not the least of which are the quality of the May River water, the current affordable housing effort, reopening and revising development agreements, and annexation policy. The candidates have been working the neighborhoods, but with over 50 square miles and nearly 15000 residents, it will be difficult for all of us to have a personal conversation with each candidate.

However, the League of Women Voters of the Hilton Head/ Bluffton Area has stepped up to conduct a candidate’s forum tonight at 7 p.m. at Bluffton Town Hall. I urge each of you to attend and hear for yourselves what positions the candidates put forth and how they articulate and defend those positions. The second most important thing a citizen must do is become an informed voter. From my conversations, it is clear that there are numerous and stark contrasts between and among the positions of the four people running for office. Hope to see you there.

The most important thing a potential voter must to do to fulfill his or her obligation of engaged citizenship is to vote. Please become familiar with the issues and then vote. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, there are parts of Bluffton, especially the newer neighborhoods, whose record of voter participation leaves room for improvement.

We all have excuses for not doing those things we know we should. We are all busy. I get it. Having said that, I want to make clear that the absolute foundation of our representative democracy is the vote. The vote is our voice: it is “We the People.” Silence in this context is simply failure.